What does one do if he/she falls in love with a non-catholic?


#1

My name is Matt and I’m a faithful catholic, with a problem… I’m in love with an agnostic. We’ve been together for over a year now, and the whole time I’ve been thinking about the future (I’m 18 now). “What’s going to happen when it comes time for us to want to get married?” or “I know the Bible says we shouldn’t get in relationships with those who aren’t believers in God, but…” So my question is, what am I supposed to do? I can’t just, shut it off or make it go away. I mean, I love the girl… involuntarily I might add. Not like I chose to. And, I’m sure I’m not the only one in this situation. It could be worse I guess, she could be bhuddist or muslim or something. Even so though, what do those people do?
Sorry for the rant, I’m done now. Thanks for your help!

-Matt


#2

Hi Matt,

Do I have news for you! What we commonly call falling in love, the intense desire to always be with one certain person where one is always thing about her, etc. seems to be a built-in mechanism for mating and provides for the continuation of the race. There is a very good description of it in the book, “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck. When one “falls in love” one will eventually “fall out of love” and either go to a deeper selfless form of love with the person or one will lose interest and look elsewhere for a relationship. Sometimes this dynamic can happen when one is already married. What should the person do? He or she recognizes that the attraction is inappropriate and remains faithful to his or her spouse to whom one as committed oneself for life. The attraction eventually will fade. There is a good example of this in the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus” where a high school graduate falls in love with her music teacher. He is definitely attracted to her, but realizes that such attraction can lead nowhere since he is happily married and so much older than she is. So he says no to her and to himself. It is very possible to do this. It’s not easy, but life isn’t always easy.

So simply because you have “fallen in love” with someone, doesn’t automatically mean that you should marry her—no matter how intense your feelings for each other may be. At eighteen you are altogether too young to be thinking in terms of marriage anyway. You have education to think about and how you will be earning a living—and so many more woman to meet and know. In our culture teen marriages almost always fail.

Now to your question: The Church does allow one to marry a non-believer, but it strongly discourages it. Children need their parents to be on the same page about what matters most in life. You are in my prayers Matt. I know this wasn’t an easy entry to read.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.


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